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ASCE Failure to Act Series

Economic Development Research Group for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2013

 ASCE’s Failure to Act economic report series, prepared by EDR Group, shows the economic consequences of continued underinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure, and the economic gains that could be made by 2020 if we choose as a country to invest in our communities.  The study compared scenarios for national growth and international trade by 2020 -- with continuation of current infrastructure investment levels, and with increased investment to address existing gaps in infrasrtucture sufficiency.  Using a series of national and international economic models, the analysis showed impacts on U.S. economic competitiveness, and consequently changes in GDP, personal disposable income, exports, and jobs.  The four-part series culminated with the release of a summary report on January 15, 2013, which presents an overall picture of the economic opportunity associated with infrastructure investment and the cost of failing to fill the investment gap.

The first report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Surface Transportation Infrastructure, encompasses highways, bridges, rail, and transit. 

The second report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure, focuses on the pipes, treatment plants, pumping stations, and other infrastructure that make up the nation’s public drinking-water and wastewater systems. 

The third report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Electricity Infrastructure, examines ways that households and business will face higher costs if sufficient electricity generation, transmission and distribution systems are not available in the future. 

The fourth report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Airports, Inland Waterways and Marine Ports Infrastructure , shows that aging infrastructure and congestion at our nation’s marine ports, inland waterways, and airports makes shipping more expensive, increasing the cost of goods.

The  summary report shows that with an additional investment of $157 billion a year between now and 2020, the U.S. can eliminate this drag on economic growth and protect:

  • $3.1 trillion in GDP, almost the equivalent of Germany’s entire GDP
  • $1.1 trillion in U.S. trade value, equivalent to Mexico’s GDP  
  • 3.5 million jobs, more than the jobs created in the U.S. over the previous 22 months
  • $2.4 trillion in consumer spending, comparable to Brazil’s GDP
  • $3,100 in annual personal disposable income

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ASCE Failure to Act Economic Series

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